So where do all the retired men meet in Erbil...?
Bakhi Shar is the name of a park in the heart of Erbil’s bazaar, near the citadel and opposite the new Nishtiman mall. A large black gate separates the retired men enjoying pleasurable time from the chaos of the outside world on the other side. This is a place where the knowledge, wisdom, and experience of an entire generation gather in one place in the heart of Erbil.
Above: A group of retired men in the 'Bakhi Shar' play some games
The men, some in suits, some in Kurdish clothes, and others in tracksuits are scattered across the park or large garden—some sitting on the fresh green grass, others in chairs, with surrounding tables holding dominoes and cards. Laughter and jokes come from some areas, while others day dream on their own.
Open for over one year now, the park has a section dedicated to sporting activities, and an outdoor gym along with an indoor cafeteria. Originally, a local group of retired men visited Erbil’s governor, Nawzad Hadi, and presented the idea of the garden. Not long after their visit, the piece of land was assigned for the Bakhi Shar (city garden) where, as they say, “the young cannot come in!” it is assigned only for retired men. There are ex-professors, teachers, director generals, sportsman and even poets etc..
Each of the retired men sitting in their groups--whether talking, or playing dominoes or card games--has a past and history of his own. They come here to share their stories, but it seems like they recall the happy memories more as laughter is a sentiment felt in the atmosphere of the garden.
Above: The outdoor gym in the retirement park designed to encourage the men to undertake sporting activities.
There are few other place¬s specially designed for older and retired men. The venue is also convenient because it is in the center of the city and available to everyone. For some retired men, Bakhi Shar (Baxi Shar) is the only place they go out of the house for ‘fresh air’. Something interesting I found out is that these men are actually knowledgeable, and are indeed a great source of information, each specializing in their own fields and almost all of them are college graduates with degrees and have had professional careers.
Above: Two of my friends are inspired by the wise words of a retired man.
Glad there is a place for the retired men…. In Erbil development is approaching, and it’s fast!!
Showing-off the membership card!
* Article on the retirement park published in issue: of the Kurdish Globe.er